The Hair Incident

“Hey, what's going on here?!! Is this necessary? Is it common practice? Does he sit on everybody? Is he some weirdo? I am I being harassed here? Should I be protesting? Is he cute? Is this Ralph Lauren’s “Safari” that he smells like? Is he as tall as I suspect? Should I get offended? Should I be flattered? What? WHAAAT? Oh, someone get me my glasses for god-sake!!!”

The Hair Incident


Ever since Demis, my closed friend, slash hair stylist has left the country, my hair and I have been left devastated. You see not only do I miss him, but my hair misses him too... I actually have never trusted it in the hands of any other, ever since he run off to find Italian men who are sensitive, have a great sense of humour AND great abdominals, and who are also - listen to this - loyal! He is an optimistic that one.

Anyway as I was saying, I’m simply not one of those hair salon regulars. I have a kind of hairstylist phobia actually. I feel kind of uneasy when in the presence of people holding scissors and feeling free to let the artist wake up in them, while experimenting with your hair. It probably started way back, in my childhood years, when every couple of months or so, this bossy, religious-freak aunt of mine, would decide that my hair needed trimming, and she should do the job herself. Because apparently Jesus is very much against hair salons… She would put me in a chair and while cutting my hair, would recite endless religious tales with all kinds of violent / Holy incidents, all about Moses departing Seas and scaring the Pharaohs with snakes and plaques, and avenging angels littering the city with blood marks, killer locusts and anorexic cows. She was particularly fond of all kinds of hell scenarios in which the sinners were being carefully stewed in big brass pots, while little horned demon guys were dancing wildly around them, holding giant forks and - I imagine - laughing maniacally. Needless to say, getting a haircut had become for me a rather traumatic experience. To this day, whenever I think of hairdressers, I can’t help but associate them with biblical bloodshed and horror... I keep expecting to hear them start uttering quotes from the Revelation, all about beasts and things, and the end of Days...

But even without having the kind of horror related memories I have, still one has to admit, a visit to a hairstylist can be a slightly unpleasant situation. Especially if you are wearing glasses... Once they are taken away from you, you are left completely vulnerable, half blind and perplexed (not to mention having disturbing flashbacks involving a giant locust and Mosses holding a snake-stick), covered with a straitjacket vinyl thing with dye stains on it, that leaves you a hand-less, helpless person at the mercy of a complete stranger who is holding sharp instruments and has the power of life and death over the top of your head... OK call me insecure, call me paranoid if you will, but this is not exactly a pleasant situation... (ESPECIALLY if you add the Moses / snake factor...)

But even I, can’t avoid the dreaded visit to the hairstylist from time to time, (like twice a year for example). The irony of it all, I have the kind of hair that can use all the help it can get actually. I mean this hair of mine is like it literally has a mind of its own. And a life of its own too! I mean this is seriously problematic hair. Not to mention whimsical. And moody. And moonstruck even I dare say. It is very often a party animal as well. And this is something that you never (I mean NEVER!) can say about the rest of me. No sir! Still there are days when my hair looks as if it had been dancing on a ‘AC/DC’ concert. Upside down. And then continued the night in a ‘Prodigy’ one, while the rest of me was sitting quietly in my room reading and having a nice cup of sweet tea. Like I said, it has a whole life of its own... (Obviously a far more exciting one too... Well at least half of it...) And then come these days when it gets even worse than this: when my hair is ... I’m ashamed to say it...well.. perky! Even though - I’m rather proud to mention - there is not one single perky cell, not a single perky particle, not a single perky molecule in me, sadly this is not the case with my hair. And then, on the other hand there are days when I’m hoping to get some kind of positive reaction out of it, but it just decides (all on its own) that its time to fall into a coma... Of course the worst case scenario, is when I have the AC/DC concert on the one side - say the left - and the coma / catatonia attack on the right... (Nope! you can't really win with it...)

Sometimes I keep it up for whole months with pins and things, in an effort to forget all about it and continue to lead my life without having to look at it changing in the mirror in front of my very eyes, like I am in some sci-fi movie written by Stephen King and directed by Ed Wood, called “The Astounding Hair That Could Think”. After six or eight month has gone by, I kind of miss it, and I get all hopeful and start believing that maybe the pin prison has reformed it in some way, and now it will be well behaved and dignified, and well, like the hair other women have for a change. And I decide to just let it down. Whenever I do, people get really surprised and are always reacting the same way by saying: “Ah, you’ve changed your hair?” Like they really mean: “Ah, you have hair?” I just go along with them agreeing that yes, I did change it, instead of saying: “No, I’ve just decided that they are now on parole”...

Last week, a year after my last visit to a hair stylist, I thought that it’s time to go back. I took the advice of a girlfriend who swears by this big shot hair artist/person and I got my self an appointment. So I arrived there at this very sophisticated place (the kind that has weird designer lamps, and sofas made of buttery Italian leather, and chairs that are meant to resemble flattened pears with legs). I had to first catch the attention of the receptionist who seemed deep into a very important telephone conversation but stopped from time to time to look me up and down with dismay and possibly disgust, before going back to explain what exactly Tony was wearing on Saturday night and how it looked so good on him - not to mention his thighs. OK, eventually I was lead to the next room and I was left in the hands of various shampoo girls, who of course took away my glasses, had a go at boiling and freezing me to death, and then led me to my chair where I sat really still, blind as a bat, with my hair wrapped up in towel-turban in an Elizabeth Taylor manner (only less radiant) and hoped that somebody would finally notice me and save me please. I couldn’t do anything but wait for the big artist to arrive. And arrive he did. After 20 minutes! He removed the towel, took a quick look at me, turned to one of his assistants and said: “No, No, No!! Later!” “Oh God he must be really good”, I thought. “He can tell I’m beyond hope and now wants nothing to do with me”. So another lady arrived and started cutting my hair with quick confident moves.

After she was done, she called him again. When he finally arrived, he took me by the chin, started messing my hair left and right for a while, and all of a sudden sort of well... how to put this?... sat on my lap..!! (You know that scene in “Her Alibi” where Pauline whatshername sits on Tom Seleck’s lap while cutting his hair, and then when she’s done he feels the need to ask her in a small voice: “Was it good for you too?” Well, kind of similar...) Needless to say, I was slightly confused. To say the least! I was thinking: “Hey, what's going on here?!! Is this necessary? Is it common practice? Does he sit on everybody? Is he some weirdo? I am I being harassed here? Should I be protesting? Is he cute? Is this Ralph Lauren’s “Safari” that he smells like? Is he as tall as I suspect? Should I get offended? Should I be flattered? What? WHAAAT? Oh, someone get me my glasses for god-sake!!!” OK, after a little more of that, he took my chin again and uttered a very ambiguous and deeply mysterious: “Hmmm!!” and left. Can you believe it? When someone brought me (a little too late I say!) my glasses, I finally took a good look in the mirror. And there she was: this glass-wearing, un-blond, plainer version of a very shocked, wide-eyed Farrah Fawcett! Oh-my-God! I know that the eighties are back again and everything, but should they be back on my head?

Even though I was disappointed with my new look, I couldn’t help being more occupied with the surreal encounter with the hair designer. It was a mystery that needed looking into if you know what I mean... To my joy, I was informed that Aris, the man himself, would come to be paid in person. Thank God, I would be able to actually see him this time! He approached with confidence and he sure looked fine in his low cut paint-over jeans and tight, understated DKNY-like, navy blue T-shirt, but something in his walk, told me that he too, wouldn’t mind running off to Milan in search of Italian men with great abdominals... Ah, well...

Anyway he approached me and then touched - or rather fondled - my ears (though what for, I couldn’t for the life of me, tell you...), took a real good look at my new Charlie's Angels hair (and I mean the ancient TV version not the Cameron Diaz / Lucy Lu reboot), stared deep into my eyes and asked: “OK?” with concern. Well, what could a girl say but, “OK!”?!! right? So I did. He then gave me a dashing Brat Pitt-like kind of smile and a wink and said: “That would be a hundred and sixty”. Well, let me tell you, I was even more surprised to hear this, than I was to have a complete stranger sit on my lap, getting intimate with my ears! But of course I paid and left. Again, what was I do to?

But I decided that no matter what, I would NOT cut my hair again. Ever! I would rather become like one of those Hindu people you read in the papers, who keep their hair three meters long, as a token to their gods. People from all over the world will be coming to see my perky / rebellious / catatonic / Farrah Fawcett-like / endless hair, and after they do, I bet they will even get this irresistible need to make special offerings to Vishnu...

Or possibly Moses...

"The Hair Incident" Art & Words Copyright © Fanitsa Petrou. All Rights Reserved. Any unauthorized use - copying, publishing, printing, reselling, etc - will lead to legal implications
(I wrote this article for a magazine, back in 2000)

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